PIL India

Public interest litigation (PIL) has a vital role in the civil justice system in that it could achieve those objectives which
could hardly be achieved through conventional private litigation.PIL, for instance, offers a ladder to justice to disadvantaged sections
of society, provides an avenue to enforce diffused or collective rights, and enables civil society to not only spread awareness about
human rights but also allows them to participate in government decision making. PIL could also contribute to good governance by
keeping the government accountable.
This article will show, with reference to the Indian experience, that PIL could achieve these important objectives. However, the
Indian PIL experience also shows us that it is critical to ensure that PIL does not become a facade to fulfil private interests, settle
political scores or gain easy publicity. Judiciary in a democracy should also not use PIL as a device to run the country on a day-today
basis or enter the legitimate domain of the executive and legislature. The challenge for states, therefore, is to strike a balance in
allowing legitimate PIL cases and discouraging frivolous ones. One way to achieve this balance could be to build in economic
(dis)incentives in PIL and also confine it primarily to those cases where access to justice is undermined by some kind of disability.
Judiciary, being the sentinel of constitutional statutory rights of citizens has a special role to play in the constitutional scheme. It can
review legislation and administrative actions or decisions on the anvil of constitutional law. For the enforcement of fundamental
rights one has to move the Supreme Court or the High Court’s directly by invoking Writ Jurisdiction of these courts. But the high
cost and complicated procedure involved in litigation, however, makes equal access to jurisdiction in mere slogan in respect of
millions of destitute and underprivileged masses stricken by poverty, illiteracy and ignorance. The Supreme Court of India pioneered
the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) thereby throwing upon the portals of courts to the common man.
Till 1960s and seventies, the concept of litigation in India was still in its rudimentary form and was seen as a private pursuit for the
vindication of private vested interests. Litigation in those days consisted mainly of some action initiated and continued by certain
individuals, usually, addressing their own grievances/problems. Thus, the initiation and continuance of litigation was the prerogative
of the injured person or the aggrieved party. However, these entire scenario changed during Eighties with the Supreme Court of
India led the concept of public interest litigation (PIL). The Supreme Court of India gave all individuals in the country and the newly
formed consumer groups or social action groups, an easier access to the law and introduced in their work a broad public interest

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